Questions to Ask Yourself
When assessing programs, it is important to take the time to investigate what is important to you with regards to your identities, needs, values, interests and goals. The following information aims to assist you in developing questions to compare and contrast the opportunities at different health profession schools and programs.
Numerous factors can impact how supported or comfortable you will feel at an institution preparing you for a health profession. Taking a broad approach to these factors can help you develop your own screening tool for your research. Regardless of the health profession you are pursuing, the comprehensive nature of this resource from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is a valuable tool to explore: Factors to Weigh Before Applying.
How, if at all, is my identity related to my motivation for pursuing a career in the health professions?
For some students, their identity/identities may have shaped their reasons for pursuing a particular health profession. Taking some time to reflect on the different motivators driving you toward your chosen health profession can be a valuable tool when considering what information to include in your application materials, especially your personal statement. For more information on this process, check in with you HPA advisor for advice on the value of sharing these motivations in your application.
Where do I want to apply?
This is a profoundly personal decision and your choice will most likely be informed by a number of variables, ranging from location to racial and ethnic identity. For some students, it may be important to seek an institution historically dedicated to educating students sharing their racial and ethnic identity (e.g., a Hispanic Service Institution [HSI]). So, it is worthwhile researching and connecting with institutional resources, such as an admissions office, prior to applying.
Understanding the school’s values and guiding principles and comparing them with your own is another way to start identifying your options. An important question to ask yourself: “Am I confident this program has the resources and opportunities to help me reach my goals?”
Beyond institutional resources, some professional organizations may have additional information. For example, this AAMC report lists medical schools graduating the highest number of Latinx physicians in the US. The Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) is another good resource to consult.
Does the program’s website offer any indication of its focus on diversity and inclusion?
While the diversity of the student population is typically included in institutional data, finding information on the diversity of the faculty and staff may be more difficult to find. Looking at individual department faculty and staff profiles, often on an ‘About Us’ web page, may be a way to get further insights into the racial diversity at the institution. Also check to see if a program or institution has an office or website dedicated to diversity and inclusion.
What kind of support do I need and want during the next phase of my education?
Take a little time to reflect on your current environment and the resources you have used, or missed, both on and off campus throughout your undergraduate experience. Consider the different academic resources, social experiences, professional opportunities and emotional and health care support that have been parts of your experience. Reflecting upon the resources you need, or want, may also include family, friends, and the program location. These reflections may serve as a good starting point to filter through the many programs and locations across the country.
Further, consider academic resources may include tutoring, study skills sessions, disabilities services, research opportunities, and student and faculty mentoring. Social resources may include access to student clubs and organizations, as well as safe and friendly spaces to meet others sharing your race and/or ethnicity on and off campus. Professional resources may include opportunities or programs to connect you with practitioners in your chosen field and are often included in the curriculum.
Cost of living might also be a significant factor in your choices. Connecting with the program’s financial assistance advisor(s) can be an additional way to glean insights on debt burdens and local cost of living estimates.
Can anyone at your chosen institution's admissions office connect you to talk with a current Latinx student?
This outreach strategy can help you gain insights into the campus and off campus environment at prospective schools. Current students can often share insights with you that are not on the website or admissions materials. These insights may also benefit you when interviewing at the institution, as you have not only shown initiative, you may be able to talk more confidently about your fit at the institution.
Reflecting upon the interview experience and taking notes on your overall impression can be a productive post-interview exercise. As you may have to make choices about school selection at a later date, referring back to your notes may help you decide which program might be a good fit for you. Post-interview reflection questions to consider might be:
- Were additional resources supporting underrepresented students shared respectfully during the admission presentation—including contact information if you had further questions?
- Overall, did it feel like you were in an inclusive environment?
- Did you feel welcomed, respected, and seen during your interview experience?
- Did your identity come up during your visit or interview? - Was that a positive or negative experience?
- Did you see or meet students, faculty or staff who shared some of your identities?
- What support or resources are available if you are spending the next two, three or four years at this institution, in this particular location?